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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Nov
14

Review: Magic on the Line

Review: Magic on the Line Magic on the Line Author: Devon Monk  Release Date: Nov. 1, 2011 Publisher: Roc Allie Beckstrom Novel #7 ISBN: #978-0451464286 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (356 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       Allison Beckstrom has willingly paid the price of pain to use magic and has obeyed the rules of the Authority, the clandestine organization that makes–and enforces–all magic policy. But when the Authority’s new boss, Bartholomew Wray, refuses to believe that the sudden rash of deaths in Portland could be caused by magic, Allie must choose whether to follow the Authority’s rules or to turn against the very people for whom she’s risked her life.       To stop the plague of dark magic spreading through the city, Allie must put all that she values on the line: her memories, her life. As dead magic users rise to feed upon the innocent and the people closest to her begin to fall, Allie is about to run out of options… What Una is talking about:       I discovered the Allie Beckstrom series by accident.  While pursing another author’s website, she had a cartoon/comic, for lack of better word, describing the release of a new book.  I looked through it, thinking it was some joke of hers or something.  I then realized it wasn’t a silly post, but something Devon Monk had put together to tease her fans about the upcoming release in this series.  Intrigued, I went to her website and read what this series is about.  Instantly I had to get my hands on it, so I requested it from the library and have been hooked ever since.       This is a gritty and dark (at times) urban fantasy.  Warning: it is not a romance.  It is more of a paranormal adventure… our world, but add magic to the mix.  I absolutely love it!  The part that got me was: Using magic meant it used you back. Forget the fairy-tale hocus-pocus, wave a wand and bling-o, sparkles and pixie dust crap. Magic, like booze, sex, and drugs, gave as good as it got. … But while magic made the average Joe pay one painful price each time he used it, sometimes magic double dipped on me. I’d get the expected migraine, flu, roaring fever, or whatever, and then, just for fun, magic would kick a few holes in my memories. It didn’t happen every time, and it didn’t...
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Nov
7

Review: Dead Mann Walking

Review: Dead Mann Walking Dead Mann Walking Author: Stefan Petrucha  Release Date: Oct 4, 2011 Publisher: Roc Hessius Mann Novel #1 ISBN: #978-0451464217 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (342 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE DEAD DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T HAVE A LIFE… After Hessius Mann was convicted of his wife’s murder, suppressed evidence came to light and the verdict was overturned — too bad he was already executed. Thanks to the miracles of modern science Hessius was brought back to life. Sort of. Now that he’s joined the ranks of Fort Hammer’s pulse-challenged population, Hessius attempts to make a “living” as a private investigator. But when a missing persons case leads to a few zombies cut to pieces, Hessius starts thinking that someone’s giving him the run-around — and it’s not like he’s in any condition to make a quick getaway…  What G & U are talking about: Dead Mann Walking is a debut novel in a new series about Hessius Mann, a zombie detective.  It is not the typical urban fantasy that Gikany and Una read, but we found it quite interesting.  This new Hessius Mann series may be something to pick up and keep an eye on. The novel begins with Hessius, our main character, fussing over an article about pieces of a zombie that were found in the desert.  From this point the story begins to flow and unfold into an engrossing mystery/detective drama.  Despite being somewhat simple, there are many fascinating twists to this tale that we did not see coming.   One of the reasons we enjoyed the novel was the main character himself, Hessius.  He, too, is a chak, a more derogatory term for a zombie.  He died (well, was executed) and due to the wonders of medical breakthroughs and science, was brought back to life.  Hessius would argue that it is not quite life, more like a new existence.  Hessius is not the macho, courageous hero; he has faults.  One of the greatest aspects of him is that he is, usually, aware of his faults and does his best to fight against them.  But he is not free from weakness either and following along with him while he struggles is really enthralling.  His complexity allows him to be truly grounded and gives him a realism that comes alive on the page. The mythology developed in Dead Mann Walking is very intriguing as well.  It is not the stereotypical zombie novel. ...
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Oct
25

Review: Drink Deep

Review: Drink Deep Dear Readers: Please help me welcome my friend Wendy, a big fan of the Chicagoland Vampire series. She brings you today’s review of… Drink Deep Author: Chloe Neill  Release Date: Nov 1, 2011 Publisher: NAL Chicagoland Vampires #5 ISBN: #978-0451234865 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (352 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and recently turned vampire Merit can’t tell if this is the darkness before the dawn or the calm before the storm. With the city iself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times haven’t been this precarious for vampires since they came out of the closet. If only they could lay low for a bit, and let the mortals calm down. That’s when the waters of Lake Michigan suddenly turn pitch black-and things really start getting ugly. Chicago’s mayor insists it’s nothing to worry about, but Merit knows only the darkest magic could have woven a spell powerful enough to change the very fabric of nature. She’ll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who’s behind this, and stop them before it’s too late for vampires and humans alike. What Wendy is talking about: Warning: If you haven’t read Book 4, Hard Bitten, then this review contains a MAJOR spoiler.  This installment of the Chicagoland Vampires series starts off in a really dark place: Ethan’s dead and Cadogan House is in receivership with the Greenwich Presidium (the “GP”), blood is being rationed and junk food is off of the House menu! Everyone is grieving for Ethan, especially Merit, which is realistic but kind of gloomy. I missed Mallory and Catcher in this book. Although a lot of the story revolves around them, Merit doesn’t directly interact with them very much. All of Merit’s primary partners are off of the table for most of the book and it causes the story to drag a little bit. Although there was an embedded mystery for Merit to solve (what’s wrong with Lake Michigan?!) there wasn’t a lot of character development until the last 50 or so pages. Then… boom! With a major twist the whole series went sky-high and all of the major characters underwent huge life changes. I really wish the rest of the book had been as exciting as the end. Honestly, this story felt a little bit like filler. It was like a moderately cute “transition boyfriend” that...
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Oct
24

Review: Sins of the Angels

Review: Sins of the Angels Sins of the Angels Author: Linda Poitevin  Release Date: Sept. 27, 2011 Publisher: Ace Books The Grigori Legacy #1 ISBN: #978-0441020911 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (325 pp), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: A detective with a secret lineage. An undercover Hunter with a bullet-proof soul. And a world made to pay for the sins of an angel…  Homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis answers to no one. Especially not to the new partner assigned to her in the middle of a gruesome serial killer case-a partner who is obstructive, irritatingly magnetic, and arrogant as hell.  Aramael is a Power—a hunter of the Fallen Angels.  A millennium ago, he sentenced his own brother to eternal exile for crimes against humanity. Now his brother is back and wreaking murderous havoc in the mortal realm. To find him, Aramael must play second to a human police officer who wants nothing to do with him and whose very bloodline threatens both his mission and his soul.  Now, faced with a fallen angel hell-bent on triggering the apocalypse, Alex and Aramael have no choice but to join forces, because only together can they stop the end of days. What G & U are talking about: Gikany and Una jumped at the chance to read something a little different in the urban fantasy realm.  Sins of the Angels, the first book in the new Grigori Legacy, is definitely that.  This new world, mostly based in Christian angel mythology, is dark, fresh and intriguing. Ms. Poitevin has crafted an enthralling world full of intrigue, plot twists and engaging characters.  We found this story to be a quick read simply because it is difficult to put down.  It is easy to step into this alternate reality because it can so easily exist within one’s own personal beliefs.  Her world-building was seamless and did not slow down the story in any way.  It was woven in with the plot, which we must say, twisted and turned right up until the end.  We didn’t expect the ending and in fact, Una was quite surprised by the way things are left.   We found ourselves completely draw into the plight of Alex and Aramael.  The struggle they face and the complete hopelessness of their fates seems to grow the more they are together.  Even with the way the story concludes…it isn’t over.  So much is left and we just cannot wait to find out what is next.  Hopefully we will...
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Oct
12

Review: Ghost of a Smile

Review: Ghost of a Smile Ghost of a Smile Author: Simon R. Green  Release Date: August 30, 2011 Publisher: Ace Ghost Finders #2 ISBN: #978-0441020751 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (279 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       The Ghost Finders answer a distress call from the private research centre of one of the biggest drug companies in the world, where a team of police enforcement agents have vanished. They have no idea what they’re facing-except a deadline that threatens to remove the entire building from existence if they fail to get to the bottom of the mystery. What G & U are talking about:       Gikany and Una were first introduced to Simon R. Green through his book For Heaven’s Eyes Only in his Secret History’s series (review HERE).  So when the opportunity came to review Ghost of a Smile in his latest Ghost Finders series, we jumped for it.  We were hoping for another story that would have wonderful banter, engaging plot and fascinating world.  We got more than we hoped for!       Since this is only the second book in the series, Gikany and Una went ahead and read the first book, Ghost of a Chance.  There is quite a bit of world-building and set up in the first book so we recommend that you grab it and read it first.  We will say we found the Ghost of a Smile much stronger, but we did enjoy the first novel.      The story begins with our fearless (well, except for Happy) ghost finders of the famous Carnaki Institute up to their usual antics.  As their beginning mission ends, they are, again, thrust into a serious situation they must deal with (even though there are better teams the “higher” ups would rather send in, they are stuck with JC, Melody and Happy).  Mr. Green’s characters are absolutely charismatic and fun. The banter is wonderful and the plot flows well. “Come on, Happy,” JC said cheerfully.  “Where’s your sense of adventure? “I had it surgically removed,” Happy said coldly.  “It was endangering my life.” “It’s true,” said Melody.  “He did.  I’ve got it in a jar at home, on the mantelpiece.”      This was just an incredibly fun and engaging story.  The plot moves well, the writing is splendidly woven with humor and character development all while keeping the mystery moving and plot thickening up until the end.  There just are not that...
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Oct
6

Review: Crossroads

Review: Crossroads Crossroads Author: Jeanne C. Stein  Release Date: August 30, 2011 Publisher: Ace Anna Strong Chronicles #7 ISBN: #978-0441020775 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (296 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       As a bounty hunter, Anna Strong knew how to find trouble. But now that she’s a vampire, trouble seems to have a knack for finding her…        The death of Anna’s old vampire mentor is causing ripples in the mortal world. His forensic report has brought up some anomalies and people are asking questions-questions that no vampire wants to answer. Anna needs to lie low, but the sudden discovery of a slew of drained bodies near the Mexican border brings an old flame back into her life and with him, a new challenge. Then, some stunning news from an unexpected source sends Anna and her friend Daniel Frey on a journey that may change both their lives-forever.  What G & U are talking about:       Crossroads is the seventh novel in the Anna Strong Chronicles.  Neither Gikany nor Una have read any previously released stories from this series, and after reading Crossroads, we recommend the series.  If you don’t mind missing out on a few things (including investment in characters) then feel free to jump in with Crossroads.       Even though we did not have the emotional connection to the characters others may have when reading the series from the first book, we did enjoy the novel.  Crossroads was a thrilling urban fantasy ride.  Anna Strong, our heroine and narrator, is a complicated woman who is doing the best she can with the circumstances she has found herself in.  As Gikany and Una assume from the previous book blurbs, the series begins with Anna becoming a vampire and then each story chronicles her “new” life.  Although we’re sure the tension with the choices that Anna faces in this book would have deeper meaning for long-term fans, the experiences and decisions she makes in this novel were not lost on us.       The relationship between Anna and Frey was a little puzzling as we did not have the whole back-story, but we enjoyed their friendship and the connection they must have forged during her short time as a vampire.  The unraveling of Frey’s past was thoroughly interesting and the “mystery” was gripping.  Gikany and Una especially enjoyed the richness that the Native American element added to the...
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Oct
4

Review: In Blood We Trust

Review: In Blood We Trust In Blood We Trust Author: Christine Cody  Release Date: September 27, 2011 Publisher: Ace Fantasy Bloodlands Book 3 ISBN:#978-0441020874 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): paperback (304 pp), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Only monsters–and lovers–call the Bloodlands home… They are monsters: Mariah–the reluctant rebel who has become a god to others of her kind.  And Gabriel, the vampire, who loves her at his own peril. Together, they freed the unhuman and inhuman from captivity, to lead them in reclaiming the land.  But even Mariah can’t keep the newly liberated monsters from quarreling among themselves.  And then a murder occurs and Gabriel is suspect. Facing a death sentence, the two flee— Back to the Bloodlands, where their story began. To face the horrors of Mariah’s past and the uncertainties of Gabriel’s future. To make a final stand, for their lives—and their love. What B is talking about: After helping to free the “monsters” being held prisoner in the asylum in GBVille, and entering a blood exchange with the maker of all the “Reds” (blood drinkers of all forms), Mariah finds the first real acceptance she’s ever known among her kind. The exchange has made her into something of a “chosen one” among the monsters, turning her into a creature unlike any other in existence in the process. Even with the successful rise of the monsters hanging in the balance, and the Shredder, Johnson Stamp still on their trail, All Mariah wants is the vampire Gabriel. Gabriel is a young vampire in comparison to many who are helping ensure the monsters’ continued freedom, but his love for Mariah eclipses everything else in their new life, as well as his old one. Unfortunately, his love exists on borrowed time, for the remnants of their human emotions fade all too soon as vampires age, leaving only cool logic behind instead. Can the link Gabriel and Mariah share be enough to defy their natures and save them both? The Bloodlands series has been a challenge from the beginning for me; my paranormal romance leanings making the stark urban fantasy landscape of Cody’s novels an adjustment. Once in the proper frame of mind, however, the books definitely come alive, just in a different way than I’m used to. In Blood We Trust is a blood-coated novel, as were the first two in the series, Bloodlands and Blood Rules. This time, though, it was easier for me to see it as simply another part of...
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Oct
2

Review: The Renfield Syndrome

Review: The Renfield Syndrome The Renfield Syndrome Author: J.A. Saare  Release Date: August 23, 2011 Publisher: Mundania Press Rhiannon’s Laws #2 ISBN: #978-1606592663 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (212 pgs), e-book Book Source: KLB Virtual Events About the book: Rhiannon thought facing off against a deranged child vampire was the most dangerous task she would ever have to undertake, but she’s about to discover making a deal with a demon is far, far worse. Sent forward into another reality, one in which vampires are now dominating nearly extinct humans, she realizes the sooner she returns to her vampire lover, Disco, the better. Unfortunately, time changes a lot of things; including those most trusted around her. When she’s faced with a loss and betrayal unlike any she has ever known, her focus shifts from severing the debt between the demon that wants to kill her, to exacting a revenge that will bring forth consequences she never could have fathomed. By reaching out to the darkness lingering within her, she’ll find the strength to push forward despite the circumstances that would see her dead and buried. After all, when it’s all said and done, all that she has left to lose is her soul. What I’m talking about: After I finished reading the first book in the Rhiannon’s Law series, Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between (review HERE), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Renfield Syndrome. Book 1 ended with a MAJOR cliff-hanger, taking our heroine, Rhiannon over 100 years into the future where a disease has wiped out much of the human population and vampires live out in the open.  Renfield picks up immediately after the conclusion of Dead. Due to the drastic changes between book 1 and 2, you can read Renfield as a stand-alone story, but I suggest starting with the first book to give you more background about the main characters. The story begins with Rhiannon trying to get her bearings after learning she has been thrust into the future as the result of making a deal with an evil demon. She is quickly captured by a group claiming to protect her from the vampires. Their leader, Carter, takes an immediate liking to Rhiannon and tries to convince her why she can’t be around the vampires. Carter’s compound seems more like a cult hideout. Everyone wears the same military uniform and there are strict rules governing their lives. Rhiannon tries to learn as much as possible without telling anyone...
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Sep
22

Review: The Vampire Files, Volume 4, Lady Crymsyn

Review: The Vampire Files, Volume 4, Lady Crymsyn The Vampire Files, Vol. 4 (Part I, Lady Crymsyn) Author: P.N. Elrod  Release Date: September 6, 2011 Publisher: Ace Trade Vampire Files Series, Book 9 ISBN: #978-0441020829 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (289 pp.), e-book Book Source: Publisher NOTE: The Vampire Files, Vol 4 is actually two novels, Lady Crymsyn & Cold Streets. This review is for Lady Crymsyn only.  About the book: In the latest Vampire Files omnibus, Jack Fleming now runs his own nightclub while remaining a reluctant player in the politics of gangland Chicago in the 1930s. And wherever vampires and mobsters mix, there will be blood… Jack uncovers the body of a good-time girl who went missing six years ago. And since her body was stashed in what is now Jack’s club, vampire or not, he won’t rest until her murderers are brought to justice… What B is talking about: Jack Fleming, P.I. has been excitedly working to get his new nightclub, Lady Crymsyn, ready for opening night. But when the crew he’s hired to complete construction on the basement of the property accidentally uncovers the remains of a woman who’d been buried alive, Jack thinks he’ll be lucky to open the club at all. Set in 1930’s Chicago, Lady Crymsyn is an entertaining take on traditional murder mysteries with the inclusion of an ambitious, but kind-hearted, vampire, Jack Fleming, in the mix. Elrod’s engaging whodunit is big on twists and turns, and following Jack along as he works through layer after layer of intrigue and deceit was a pleasure.  Elrod keeps quite a few traditional vampire traits for Jack (no reflection in mirrors, must sleep through the daylight hours, and so on), but has created enough differences to set them apart from most others in the genre. One of the more interesting being that since very few humans are able to survive the turning process, most older vampires tend to shy away from making too many for their own purposes.  Though it would probably have been easy to allow the borrowed clichés of the time period to dominate the novel’s dialog, Elrod succeeds in using it as an accent, never letting it becoming excessively obvious. There are a couple of characters that use it quite readily, but, given their personalities, it suits them. The result is a feeling of authenticity, rather than the air of a bad gangster movie.  Lady Crymsyn successfully combines mystery, suspense, and romance into an inventive take on the vampire...
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Sep
12

Review: Blood Rules

Review: Blood Rules Blood Rules Author: Christine Cody  Release Date: August 30, 2011 Publisher: Ace Fantasy Bloodlands Series Book 2 ISBN: 978-0441020768 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): paperback (320 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: In the Bloodlands, Sometimes the Monsters Don’t Even Know Themselves…. After the vampire named Gabriel came into her world, Mariah Lyander was forced to face her own true nature and admit to the terrible things she had done–things he could not forgive.  To redeem herself, to recover her own humanity—and Gabriel’s love—she sets out on a perilous journey across the haunted land, in search of a rumored cure. And Gabriel, blood-bonded to her, is compelled to follow.  Together—yet not together—they will face danger and death. And what they find is not a place where monsters can be cured—but one where they are born… What B is talking about: When her inability to control the beast within herself threatens the safety of her adopted Were-family, Mariah Lyander decides the best thing she can do for them, and herself, is to leave in search of a rumored cure. Her reluctant blood-mate, the vampire Gabriel, is compelled to come along, and what they discover will plant the seeds for an uprising for all their kind. This is the second book in the Bloodlands series, and it’s more intense, gory, and outright disturbing at times, than the first. What has happened to society in Cody’s book is truly unnerving. The “hubs” (settlements) are overrun with paranoid shut-ins, “distractoids,” and groups of “runners,” all mindless puppets of the government. In this version of the future, water is the only form of currency, and for some, selling themselves into slavery is the only way to get it.  In addition to the chaos of the hubs, the Shredder, Johnson Stamp, is still after Mariah and her “family,” and, though injured for much of the novel, he manages to stay alive to continue his pursuit. His survival, nevertheless, can be at least partially attributed to the conflicts between Mariah and Gabriel, as they battle their own natures and each other.  Once again highlighting the fact that Blood Rules is certainly not a romance is the ongoing relationship struggles of the two main characters. While Mariah and Gabriel can’t stay away from each other, they can also barely tolerate one another. The latter is truer of Gabriel than Mariah, but the distance between them is significant. By the end of the novel, though, they seem to...
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